REVIEW: Twentieth Century Boy, Sunderland Empire, until Saturday

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GLAM rocker Marc Bolan burst on to the music scene in the 1970s in a shower of glitter and a swirl of feather boas.

Fast forward to 2014 and 20th Century Boys brings its musical tribute to the flamboyant rock star to Sunderland Empire.

Talented rock artist Bolan’s star burned bright and briefly, dying in a car crash two weeks before his 30th birthday.

Staged by Gary Lloyd, director of Thriller Live, 20th Century Boy tells the tale of Bolan’s meteoritic rise to fame, before his untimely death, when American girlfriend Gloria Jones crashed her Mini into a tree in south west London.

Centring around the couple’s son Rolan, in a solid performance by young actor Luke Bailey, the musical tribute charts his father’s rise to pop stardom, as Rolan tries to discover more about the man who died before he was out of nappies.

Energetic archive footage of band T-Rex’s live shows combine with performances of Bolan’s greatest hits - Get it On, Ride a White Swan, I Like to Boogie and, obviously, 20th Century Boy.

Warren Sollars is the star of the show, as the beautiful and big-haired singer-songwriter.

But his speaking voice didn’t always ring true for me and girlfriend Jones, played by Donna Hines, stole his crown with her superb vocals and confident performance.

The show didn’t shy away from the darker side to Bolan’s life, as his rise to fame parallels his descent into drink and drugs and the break-up of his marriage to best friend and manager June Child, played by Lucy Sinclair.

I felt it was over-long at three hours, but the audience’s reaction to a sing-a-long finale looked like it had been worth the wait for them.